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Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety is a fear of social situations. Everyone has felt nervous about how they will handle a social event from time to time. Such anxiety in and of itself is not a problem. Social anxiety is only a problem when it is not proportionate to the concern that we are facing. When our fears of social situations become bigger than the event itself, the anxiety can prevent us from functioning as we want to. We may begin to avoid social events or be overwhelmed with stress when we do engage in our daily social lives. This means that we must learn to manage our social concerns rather than eliminate them.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder (DSM-V, Mental Health Foundation, 2021) may include:

  • Fear or anxiety concerning social situations where you might be judged or scrutinized by others. Examples include needing to perform for others or being the focus of other’s attention.
  • Concern or worry about being embarrassed or humiliated due to your own actions in social settings and being rejected by others.
  • Social settings almost always provoke fear or anxiety.
  • Looking to find flaws in your own interactions after a social interaction.
  • Anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event.
  • Consistently avoiding social situations or enduring them with anxious feelings or fear.
  • This fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the threat posed by the social setting.
  • This fear or anxiety causes significant impairment in how you function in social or occupational areas of your life.

Tips to manage social anxiety include:

  • Observe your social anxiety. Learn where it occurs and what it feels like, both physically and mentally.
  • Once you learn the signs and thoughts associated with your social anxiety, begin to challenge the thoughts as they occur. Our previous blog posts about A.N.T.S. and negative thoughts can help you learn more about challenging your anxious thoughts.
  • Start recognizing and eliminating the behaviors that you use to avoid social situations. This will help you engage in social situations and recognize that these situations are not dangerous.

Social anxiety is a common experience, but it should not be ignored. Being able to manage your social anxiety can help you obtain a comfortable and fulfilling life. Sometimes we need help to recognize where our social fears come from and how we can begin to address them. The outside perspective of a counselor can be useful in exploring what your social anxiety looks like. The counselors at Jerry Walker Therapy Services are here to provide you with the insight and skills that you can use to manage your social worries.